THE people of Malaysia embraced 1Malaysia a long time ago. There was tolerance and acceptance of all races in Malaysia.
It would seem that politicians are the ones who have less tolerance and acceptance of others because they keep harping on issues that are divisive rather than focusing on ways to bridge the differences.
I was born in 1965. My childhood years were spent growing up in small towns where I did not feel any prejudice due to my race. I went to a Sekolah Kebangsaan where children of all races mingled and played with each other.
My best friends were Chinese, Indians and Malays. Our parents did not teach us to shun each other nor did they speak to us negatively about other races or religions. They taught us that we were merely different and we should respect and accept the differences.
My fondest memories during those years were of the major festivities – Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Hari Raya. We would all visit each other’s houses to eat and play and join in the celebrations.
I particularly remembered one occasion where I was invited by my Malay neighbour to his Atuk’s kampung to celebrate Hari Raya and collect duit Raya. Imagine that! A Chinese boy, together with his Malay friends going from house to house eating, playing and being given duit Raya.
During the school holidays, I also followed them to Atuk’s bendang to catch fish. It was true unity, tolerance and acceptance of each other not only by the children but by their elders as well.
Sadly, these memories have become “the good old days”.
We now have the 1Malaysia concept to try to promote greater unity. To quote our Prime Minister, “...the ultimate goal of 1Malaysia, which is national unity, has been the main vision of our country’s leaders before me. 1Malaysia is a concept to foster unity among the multi-ethnic rakyat of Malaysia.”
Perhaps it is the politicians rather than the rakyat who need to embrace the concept of 1Malaysia wholeheartedly.CHOONG YUN LOONG,